This awardee has received supplemental funding. This award detail page includes information about both the original award and supplemental awards.
Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $1,197,686)
Statement of the problem: During the course of our replication study, Decision Making in Sexual Assault Cases, a crucial issue has emerged that affects many jurisdictions- the passage of legislation to address the backlog of forensic evidence in untested sexual assault kits. One state in our study passed a 2013 law that instructs the Division of Criminal Justice to establish standards for exactly what evidence must be submitted for testing. This law fundamentally changed the way that cases are investigated providing a unique opportunity to explore how such legislation is implemented and the affect on case attrition. Little is known about how these new laws affect investigation and attrition in cases of sexual assault.
Goals and objectives: This supplement builds on our current goals, demonstrated capability for data collection, and relationship with police to examine how new protocols for testing backlogged and new kits operate and the impact of these policies and forensic evidence on case outcomes.
Methods and procedures: The supplement focuses on one jurisdiction which has recently implemented new policies for testing forensic evidence in backlogged as well as in new cases. The backlogged cases include those for which we conducted detailed police case record review before the new testing protocol was implemented. The research relies on a mixed methods approach to collect data on:
1. Disposition of all backlogged kits tested and the specific forensic findings; 2. The impact of test results on case attrition for backlogged cases among 1026 cases for which we already collected detailed case characteristics and a recent sample of 300 reports from 2013; 3. The impact of testing on 300 new cases; and 4. The issues that teams implementing the new policies have had to address including victim notification and engagement.
Significance and implications: This project effectively and efficiently builds on our currently funded research and enhances the impact of the study at a cost that is less than if a new project was funded. We have a wealth of information on case characteristics useful for analysis of factors associated with new outcomes arising from completed forensic evidence testing and an opportunity to understand the implementation of new policies on collection, testing and use of forensic medical evidence in sexual assault cases. With the goal of increasing access to justice for sexual assault victims, this work will contribute to development of best practices for testing forensic evidence from these kits. nca/ncf